A new development will help mothers rely on natural breastfeeding

Mechanical Engineering students developed a device to help mothers rely on natural breastfeeding: the device measures the amount of milk the baby eats and enables the mother to assess whether the baby has eaten enough

Many mothers that breastfeed their baby describe the difficulty of knowing whether their baby has eaten enough or is still hungry. The feeling of helplessness was also experienced by the wife of Matan Sheli, as he was considering his final project in the mechanical engineering department. Matan and his classmate, Eran Hayo, along with their advisors Dr. Eitan Fisher and Ms. Natalia Dvoskin, decided to develop a device that would measure the amount of milk a baby consumed when nursing.

After studying the issue Sheli and Hayo put together a small device that is installed on a standard silicon nipple, with sensors that can identify the quantity of milk the baby eats. The information is transmitted to a dedicated application that directly updates the user.

“My wife gave birth a year ago, and after two days of breastfeeding the baby cried a lot at night”, recounted Matan. “My wife was very frustrated that she had no way of knowing whether the baby was hungry or perhaps something else was bothering her. We chose this final project after we learned that this is a widespread problem”.

Eran Hayo explains: “We studied the issue of nursing, and what happens to the woman’s body physiologically. We wanted a simple solution that wouldn’t make nursing more difficult and would be easy to use. Finally we developed a simple system that measures the amount of liquid that passes through during a gentle nursing activity. The device is placed on the nipple, does not bother the baby and measures the amount of milk that passes from the mother to the baby, to be used by the application”.

According to the two students, the device is intended to prevent a situation whereby the mother switches to feeding from a bottle only because of the inability to measure how much the baby ate, and the concern that the baby did not eat enough. They hope is that the development will enable mothers to rely on natural nursing.

Dr. Eitan Fisher: “When the students raised the idea I thought that this was a complicated project, an unlikely to be completed within one year. I tried to lower their expectations and told them that the idea is good, but that I was not sure that it could be applied. However, Matan and Eran were very diligent, and did not leave any stone unturned in their research and in executing their idea. At the end of the year they presented an enlarged model of the device as well as a model built to the required sized, proving the feasibility of the project in a miniature scale. The project would not have been possible without their determination to find a solution to a real problem that has the potential to help so many women”.